Last week, I took a Concord Coach bus down to Boston for an Introductory Lifecasting and Skin Effects seminar at Reynolds Advanced Materials. The experience marked several “firsts” for me…my first time booking with AirBNB and my first Lifecasting workshop ever. I stayed in Cambridge at Kinnard St. & Western Ave. which was in walking distance from a wide variety of restaurants, a Whole Foods, bus stops, and the Red Line to and from South Station.
I went down last Wednesday, September 6th for the seminar held approximately 10 minutes away (by bus) at Reynolds Advanced Materials, on Electric Avenue in Brighton, on Thursday, September 7th. “That’s right,” said Anna as she sang the next part of her sentence,”we gonna walk down to…Electric Avenue!” I, then, took the bus back up to Maine last Friday, September 8th.
For those of you who do not know, Reynolds Advanced Materials, is a distributor of Smooth-On products. This summer, I learned how to make my first one-part mold at the CoAction Lab, where I used a pour on silicone rubber from Smooth-On. Upon entering the MFA Intermedia program, however, I already had some ideas in mind for some artworks involving Lifecasting, but do not have any experience with any of the processes, never having previous done it in any way, shape or form…well, at least not outside of the plaster bandage face masks I made to earn a Girl Scount badge as a little girl.
For those who may not be familiar with “lifecasting,” it is “the creation of a three-dimensional copy of a living body by means of molding and casting techniques.” (Definition, www.yourdictionary.com)
This introductory lifecasting seminar was extremely informative, and I learned a lot! For the price of admission ($75), breakfast, snacks, and lunch were proved as well as a starter lifecasting kit (of Alga-Safe and Hydrocal) were given to each of the participants to take home. After introductions, there was a very informative slideshow presentation to familiarize us with the terms, techniques, materials, and safety overview of all things Lifecasting. Then came the fun part of several live demos throughout the day on the live model, Rob.
The first live demo was Rob’s hand molded in alginate (Alga-Safe) and cast in Smooth-cast 300Q, which was a fast setting clear resin, which was flesh-colored pigment added; we then each got to mold and cast our thumbs:
The second live demo involved making a mold of Rob’s hand in Body Double Fast Silicone (a brush-on, platinum cure, skin-safe silicone), reinforced by a 2-part mother mold out of gypsum plaster bandages. They used the Smooth-cast 300Q clear resin again and added a purple pigment to color the hand.
The third live demo was a cast of Rob’s face, applying layers of Body Double Silk (for easy removal given that Rob had a beard) and Body Double Standard, reinforced once again with a mother mold of gypsum Plaster Bandages.
The fourth live demo was using Rob’s face mold to do a cold casting using Smoth-Cast 325 and a Copper Metal powder.
The final demonstration was a demonstration in Skin FX, Wound Plates and Ultimate Blood Kits using Sculptex (a sulfur-free modeling clay to sculpt the wound), Smooth Cast 300Q (for casting the wound plate mold), Dragon Skin FX Pro (for casting the wound appliance), Skin Tite (to apply the wound appliance seamlessly to the skin and sculpt additional wounds directly onto the skin using a build-up method around the cast wound appliance), SilcPig (to pigment the skin tite), and the Ultimate Blood Kit to add realistic blood FX to the wounds.
All in all, it was pretty awesome and I learned so much. I hope they do a more advanced lifecasting workshop in the future, so I can attend it. Of course, I left not only having purchased some supplies in hand, but also ordering some supplies to ship back to the IMRC for my studio for various artworks I want to start working on. Plus, they offer a 10% student discount if you order directly (in person or call in), so I had to take advantage of that too!
I am excited to get started and apply what I have learned, although, I also intend to be the subject of some of my various lifecasting projects, so I get to recruit at least three (up to five or six) assistants to train and help me create the molds of myself that I wish to produce. The only thing I regret about my experience with the seminar is that I did not document it enough. I should have taken more pictures or video. I did audio record most of the entire seminar, so that I could go back and listen later to take better notes and remind myself, but most of the time I was very attentive to all the details that I honestly did not really think of shooting video until later because I was so engrossed in observing the process.
They do come up to Maine and do free demonstrations at Universities using Smooth-On products so maybe we can get them to come up and do one for us. That would be fun! Goodness, I sound like a salesman, don’t I? Plus, the staff love to troubleshoot any mold making, and casting projects one might wish to execute, from lifecasting, to industrial fabrication, to movie special FX. So maybe with enough interest from the student body???
For me, as a beginner, it was a good starting point for my introduction and technical development into Lifecasting. I am hooked, and already looking to learn more advanced techniques one I master what I just observed.